Changing Their Tune


Okay, so now, the gatekeepers are reeling, rocking on their heels, and in order to stay afloat in the new world order of publishing, they have to adapt.

The gatekeepers here, in this specific instance, means “literary agents and agencies,” for the record.

They’re suddenly singing a different song now. See, agents know if writers go their own way and pay for things like editorial services, copy editing services, and when necessary code help, they can go to Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, PubIt!, Kobo and others and simply…publish. They don’t need anyone to represent them to those places, and they don’t need to surrender part of their money to do it. And the money they earn doing it that way isn’t a loan against what someone guesses the sales will be, but is actual money earned through sales.

The Literati, however, like to take that 15% cut right off the top. They like it and, should an author ever not earn out their advance and the publisher put them on the hook for the payback, you better believe the agency won’t offer back that part of the loan they took. Nope. It’s theirs and they earned it by virtue of getting the writer to sign on the dotted line and then “getting them into a publishing house,” so technically, they”earned” it too.

So now, with the middleman being cut viciously out of the equation with self-ePublishing and distribution, what are the gatekeepers going to do to make money?

Look! Agents!...or are they lawyers? Hm.

Why, they’re going to continue to horn in on your dollars, writers! What else can parasites do?

Some literary agencies and agents, reading the writing on the wall, are now offering “self-publishing” services to their clientèle. I found this out through today’s blog post by Rachelle Gardner, a well-respected and well-known literary agent on the Internet. (I have no animosity for Rachelle Gardner, who is a sister in Christ, and this is NOT personal.) In her post, Rachelle states (admits, confesses) that those in the “traditional” (read: ARCHAIC) publishing industry no longer look with disdain on the self-published author. It’s a change which came in the last few years, she says. Really? Like, since 2010 maybe, when the Kindle broke the backs of the gatekeeping system? Maybe? Or maybe in 2009, when the Kindle started a publishing platform and offered 70% royalties to its writers?

Either way, the gatekeepers are suddenly singing a very different song than they sang before. And I don’t think this is the same song they were singing last year. I don’t believe this particular tune — that self-publishing is another acceptable route for an author to take and won’t hurt their chances of being published traditionally — was even being hummed until the likes of Joe Konrath, Amanda Hocking and John Locke started crushing expectations and selling like there was no tomorrow. Seeing that, well…now the gatekeepers want in! And hey — they can still keep all their sycophants! How awesome’s that news?!

Joe Konrath stated on his blog yesterday the same thing; his agency is doing the very same thing and is offering services to self-publishing authors. Just 15% of your sales, and for someone like Joe Konrath — who’s books are selling so fast and hard he can write full-time and make a handsome living — that’s probably a worthwhile trade-off. Not for someone like me, though.

And if you think this means I’ll stop screaming about how much I hope the literati collapse under their own egos and fold, you’re wrong. It’s another reason for me to decry them and hate them for being parasites, leeches, predating on the authors they need to stay in business, mocking them and getting away with it for so long. They’ve had it coming and I hope their plan fails.

But hey, that’s just me.

-JDT-

Copyright 2011 DarcKnyt, all rights reserved

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9 thoughts on “Changing Their Tune

  1. Well a parasite may be a slimy, creepy, and leeching thing but it will do anything to survive like all other animals. I think agents being self-publishers might be good for some (as in those who lack formatting experience or ability as well as those who don’t really care about their covers, etc.), but the majority of self-publishers I’ve seen — that were in some small way successful — tend to be self-starters. They’re motivated enough to learn formatting and to learn about cover design. But the average writer isn’t like that (this editing job has shown me how selfish and entitled some can be) and wants to be handed everything after the writing is done. So, because of people like that, agents and publishers will still be around, but I highly doubt they’ll ever be doing as well financially again.

    True enough — everyone wants to survive. But I’m not in favor of those who make their living taking advantage of others. And I still am hoping only those who care enough about their art — their BUSINESS — to write well and invest in either learning or hiring someone professional to do covers and editing will cause agents/agencies — and eventually publishing houses — to sink to the bottom where they belong.

    Hey, we have to have a dream, right? That’s mine.

    Oh, and you need to anonymously dish on those writer stories. I’d love to hear ’em.

    • I don’t like it that agents take advantage of writers, but, quite frankly, writers make it too damn easy. So many never research contracts, what an agent should be doing and –gasp!– if you really need an agent in the first place. If writers just used Google (it seriously doesn’t take much more than that, the rabbit hole of links is pretty obvious and is lined in bright neon colors) maybe agents and publishers wouldn’t have this leeching ability. Maybe writers wouldn’t find formatting ebooks and preparing cover art so daunting. Maybe marketing would be a simple(r) concept. You would think writers would care enough about their babies and their passions to actually invest, like you say, in editors or designers, but really, most are just snobs who think once they’ve written a book they are God’s gift to literature. They’re riding in style now, when in reality they’ve only done half the work if even that. It sucks, but I really don’t see stupid people changing any time soon, much as I wish they would. The good news is that the better writers will rise up. I firmly believe that.

      I really, truly understand writers who want to WRITE, not do the other stuff they find piddly and time-consuming, stuff they don’t want to learn. Cover design is one of those things; maybe they feel they’re strong enough at editing not to need to hire a third party. I do. And I firmly believe others I associate with are strong enough to give me sufficient input to keep my work in line and professional. But I still need help with some things, and perhaps for those things I will be willing to give up 15% … WHEN I have sufficient income to do so. Joe Konrath does. Me, not so much. So in the meantime, since it’s MY business, I have to make sure I do the best work I can and if I have to invest a bit in getting a third-party editing service or a cover designer (if mine don’t work), then I will do that. I will also keep writing, and realize that a lot of being a successful writer — a LOT of it, whether traditionally published or self-published — is pure luck. Who gets seen? Who gets read? Who gets sales? Sometimes, it’s luck. (Yes, even Konrath says so.) But luck, in the words of a favorite character of mine, favors the prepared.

      Writers have heard for SEVENTY YEARS OR MORE they had to have an agent. Publishers AND agents have said it. The industry has set itself up this way. Writers may be drinking too much of that Kool-Aid now, but there’s a reason so many have come up believing what they do. Yes, they should take the bull by the horns in this modern era, but the song is JUST NOW changing. Writers aren’t to blame for what agents and publishers do and have done for so long. They’re to blame for still being sycophants instead of doing their best to find their readers the easier way.

      And I might have to email you some stories some time. I’ve only been at this a week and have come across some… unique queries and even more unique writers.

      Not “some time” — NOW. I can’t WAIT to hear about how spoiled people act!

  2. I wouldn’t want to be working in the traditional publishing industry at the moment. Good thing I couldn’t even get my foot in the door after university.

    It’s about as bad, I would think, as the IT industry after 1/1/2000. Collapsing fast. But with clever little ducks like this, they’ll find some sniveling way to survive, I’m sure.

  3. I wonder if literary agents, at least some of them, will go the way of travel agents. I remember when I picked up the phone and call my travel agent. That was years ago. I don’t even know a travel agent now! Do they still exist?

    Good question. I know a few of them work for corporate travel centers, ’cause we call ’em to set up our business trips and stuff. But I haven’t seen a travel agent office in a loooooooooooong time. I think they’ve gone the way of the dodo thanks to places like Orbitz and Travelocity.

    • Then take heart. Perhaps literary agents have a bit of the dodo DNA

      LOL! Well, we can hope, right? Thank you, it’s so good to see you again!

  4. I’ve found that in any industry, the place where art and business meet can be a very, very ugly place. That goes for music, acting, and of course writing. The almighty dollar can have strange effects on even the best of people. But like Elisa stated above, they want to survive, like any living creature. The trick would be to find a way to do it without drowning everybody else. Sounds like Mr. Konrath is making that step, and so are other people.
    Can’t we all just get along?! LOL

    NO! We can’t! It’s US against THEM, V.R.! Pick a side! Take a stand! 😉

    I agree that writers need to invest as much in learning about their businesses as they do in learning about their writing topic. My wife stated this just last night. If we want to write something we don’t know about we do a little investigation. Just enough to get by with the writing, and that’s fine. If writers did the same for their businesses and learned just enough to be able to watch out for themselves, the gatekeepers would all fade to black and the world would be better for it.

  5. My sister in laws, sister in law recently purchased a Kobo, or whatever it’s called. She loves it. And every time we pop into Future Shop I catch myself wandering over to take a peak at them. I really don’t have time to go to the book store and look around for books anymore, I truly don’t, plus the book store here rarely has anything I actually want, so I’d have to resort to ordering it online and wait for it anyway… this e-Reader idea is sounding more and more convenient. Hell, I look at getting everything online these days.

    It’s a boon, love, a boon. If you can swing one for yourself, you won’t be sorry. My wife hasn’t paid for an ebook yet and hasn’t run out of anything to read. And of course, there are MY books you could read… 😉 (J/K).

    • I found a tablet that was less than the price of a Kindle, so I can use the Kindle app, plus have all Internet stuff, widgets, apps, etc, that a smartphone has, without the phone part. 🙂 It’s awesome. I can send you the link if you think you might be interested sweetie. 🙂

      No thanks, I have one. Oh, you mean Onyx? Okay.

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